Ark. (November 7, 2013) – Hendrix students arrived at class to discuss a
reading assignment with the author. But the San Francisco-based author wasn’t
on campus. She was sitting comfortably in her Bay Area home in front of her
computer screen. Arlene Goldbard nonetheless carried on an hour-long
conversation with Hendrix students via video conferencing.
students are enrolled in Art and Spirit, co-taught by theatre professor Danny
Grace and religious studies professor Dr. Jay McDaniel. The class is one of 14
new interdisciplinary offerings in the College’s new The Engaged Citizen (TEC)
course for first-year students.
the author of New Creative Community: The
Art of Cultural Development and The
Culture of Possibility: Art, Artists, and the Future, listened as student
groups posed questions such as “Should art be free?”
had been so generous toward our course content and the idea of our Art and
Spirit Course. Our students had responded very favorably to The Culture of Possibility: Art, Artists,
and the Future,” said Grace. “Jay
and I felt she would be a great role model for the students.”
arrangements with the author was pretty easy, Grace said.
is very busy and in high demand, but she made time for our students,” he said.
“She told me she has done a lot of this sort of thing. I don’t know if she has done classes like
Having the author talk and answer questions about her work was a
unique experience for students, Grace said.
students interacted with a nationally known and respected writer and
activist. She brought her material to
life for our students in a way Jay and I would never be able to accomplish,” he
said. “I know our students (as well as Jay and I) drew inspiration from having
her ‘in’ class. I doubt our students
will forget her appearance.”
in Art and Spirit agreed.
to discuss with Arlene the topics of her book was truly an awesome experience.
Never before has classroom material been brought to life so directly for me,” said
Lexi Adams, a freshman from Lawrence, Kan. “It made everything that we’d
previously discussed in class become a thousand times more relevant and real,
as opposed to having a book author simply be some invisible presenter of ideas
speaking with the author we were able to get a better understanding of the
author's true intentions with various literary devices rather than a third
party's interpretation of such things,” said Alainna Collins, a freshman from
Nixa, Mo. “I also found that Arlene has a lot of other insights that were not
in the book that I found very interesting, both pertaining to the class and in
my outside life.”
made the text more real,” said Tori Walters, a freshman from Dallas, Texas. “It
made it relatable and made it understandable.”
the book with the author as opposed to discussing the book with a professor
gives us a completely new perspective and understanding of the material,” said
Carly Howden, a freshman from Mandeville, La. “We asked Ms. Goldbard questions
that, as a class, we thought up and received real answers as opposed to making
“Well just the fact that it was her book, when she talks
about it, it makes it ten times more believable,” said Benjamin Robles, a freshman from Little Rock, Ark. “And
also the overall message seems clearer.”
and McDaniel are no strangers to using video conferencing technology in the
spring, the Department of Theatre Arts and Dance, Grace’s department, produced
Voice for the Theatre, the College’s first video teleconference class, in
collaboration with faculty at Rollins College. The department is also making
arrangements to have teleconferences for current students to interact with
Hendrix alumni who are graduates of the theatre arts program.
has used video conferences to conduct course sessions with students and faculty
at institutions in China.
sure feel like Skyping with authors is good for students,” said McDaniel. “They
really liked it.”
feedback was definitely positive, McDaniel said, adding that the level of
interaction between student and guest speaker wasn’t affected by the technology
actually think video is better,” he said. “You don’t have to host them the
whole time, and it isn’t as costly because they don’t have to spend a day or
a guest the caliber of Goldbard on campus would cost the College about $2,500 a
day, Grace estimated.
did the session at no cost to us,” Grace said. “I feel in the future we would
at the very least need to offer her some compensation. We would like to have the author of our other
text book visit our class [but] we could not afford to have her on campus
video conferencing technology is a cost effective, timely, and user friendly
classroom solution compared to the expense and planning required bringing
someone to campus, according to Hendrix Fellow in Digital Humanities &
Pedagogy Timothy A. Lepczyk, who assists Hendrix faculty with technology
initiatives in the classroom.
terms of current events and immediacy, faculty members can connect very fast
with those who are experiencing an event or connect with an author or subject
matter expert via Skype, Lepczyk said.
things can go wrong, Lepczyk said. You can't control the technology on the
other end of the call. Sometimes students and faculty may be camera shy and may
feel awkward establishing a rapport with people on a video call.
sometimes the uncertainty of video technology can be an asset for students in
class, Adams said.
the connection was at times a bit sketchy, like it often is during video calls,
it was important to pay close attention to the subject Arlene was discussing,” Adams
drawbacks to using video conferencing in the classroom are likely a product of uncertainty
more than difficulty in learning, Lepczyk said.
media center does a fabulous job supporting faculty in this activity,” Lepczyk
said. “There's not a lot for faculty to learn or be responsible for. The goal
is to have the faculty member teach as they normally would and let the technology
fade into background.
education professor Dr. James Jennings uses video conferencing for his TEC
class called Poverty and Institutions. The course, which he teaches with
politics professor Dr. Carmen Hardin, focuses on how poor people interact with
four institutions – education, welfare, housing, and criminal justice.
Jennings and Hardin have used video conferencing to connect students with a
curriculum director in a high poverty school system and with a juvenile judge.
really helpful in terms of giving students the opportunity to interact with
these subjects,” said Jennings. “It gives us so much accessibility to sources.”
isn’t concerned that the use of video conference technology is overshadowing
traditional classroom instruction.
still drives technology,” he said. “Technology supports what you’re trying to
do with traditional teaching.”
in 1876, Hendrix College is a national leader in engaged liberal arts and
sciences education. For the sixth consecutive year, Hendrix was named one of
the country’s “Up and Coming” liberal arts colleges by U.S. News and World Report
Hendrix is featured in the latest edition of Colleges
That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think about Colleges
well as the 2014 Princeton Review’s The
Best 378 Colleges
magazine's list of America's Top Colleges, and the 2014 Fiske Guide to Colleges. Hendrix
has been affiliated with the United Methodist Church since 1884. For more
information, visit www.hendrix.edu